Let's talk Latin America

Latin-run businesses adapt to life under lockdown

Written by
Posted on

Coronavirus has taken the world by storm, affecting employment, income, health services, and just about every aspect of our lives. Here you can find up-to-date information about how Latin-run businesses, organisations and initiatives in both Bristol and London have been affected by lockdown and how they are adapting to these extraordinary times.


Zero waste health food shop and café La Ruca is now delivering

La Ruca, a family-fun health food shop and café bar on the vibrant Gloucester Road, has been running for over two decades. However, owners Patricia and Alfonso are no strangers to innovation. Just a few weeks before lockdown, La Ruca officially went zero waste, using dispensers for all their products, as opposed to individually packaged produce. When the store reopens, customers can now  bring a container to refill with nuts, seeds, pulses, cereals and more.

Although the shop and café have officially closed, following government guidelines, they are still taking orders by phone and email through online marketplace good sixty. You can order your weekly shop, or call up for a treat bag of freshly-baked goodies, either collecting directly from Gloucester Road or receiving them by delivery if you live locally.

UPDATE: La Ruca are selling multicoloured patterned face coverings made by key worker Diana Russo. As a way to relax outside of her demanding job as a carer for children with special needs, Diana crafts. She’s been producing face coverings for the kids she looks after and is now producing enough to stock La Ruca. “By doing this I feel I’m contributing to the community and supporting our local businesses,” Diana tells BristoLatino. Purchase your own on at the shop on Gloucester Road.

Diana Russo’s vibrant handmade face coverings

We are still taking orders by phone / email or through 'good sixty' and you can collect from the shop or we can deliver…

Gepostet von La Ruca am Dienstag, 31. März 2020


La Clandestina are bringing necessities to the elderly in Mexico


We have news from our favourite supper club La Clandestina, who are currently back in Mexico. Every time you ate delicious Mexican treats with La Clandestina (you may have tried their delicious tlacoyos at the BristoLatino magazine launch), your money was gratefully saved up to pay for food supplies, medical items, cleaning products and other necessities for the elderly of Mexico State. Nidia and Nirvana, La Clandestina directors, are currently delivering these goods with care and precaution. 

Keep up to date with all their news and find out how to donate here.


Popelei is fostering creativity amidst the crisis: “Women in Lockdown” 


As theatres have now closed their doors indefinitely, the pioneering Bristol-based arts organisation Popelei have taken to the internet to showcase theatre. Under the theme “Women in Lockdown” Popelei asked writers to come up with a theatrical monologue as part of the Popelei Seed Commission – an initiative that seeks to support emerging talent across theatre. 

Every weekday, Popelei will be sharing one of the 25 winning short pieces by exciting and diverse voices, handpicked from over 1,000 submissions. Tamsin Hurtado Clarke, artistic director of Popelei, affirms that the organisation is “still facilitating creativity and collaboration amid the crisis.” Watch the videos here.

Pasitos Spanish School for children closes

This period has been tough for Natalia Lyes, director of Pasitos Spanish school for children, which has had to close due to the lockdown. “Pasitos has taken a huge economic hit,”  she told BristoLatino. 

The Spanish school which runs from her Lyes’s home in North Bristol, is still offering limited services, such as online book readings for kids in Spanish and public postings of selected teaching materials and videos. “Whenever I see something interesting, I share it with my students,” Natalia adds. 

The problem is that the internet is completely saturated with online teaching videos. “It’s stressful trying to compete with them right now. I thought about making my own, but this would mean taking time away from family,” Natalia explains. She is busy acting as mother and a teacher to her own children at home, while still teaching as a key worker at a local school. “This is a really stressful time for parents,”  she confesses.

Pasitos has taken a huge economic hit, but Natalia explains that this also comes with great gains: “I’ve been able to spend time with family making memories, experiencing things together, which we never had the opportunity to before and perhaps might never again.” As a busy family, they’ve benefitted from this pause, enjoying an opportunity to relax and spend time together.



LAWA launch Emergency Fund for vulnerable women

Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA) runs the only two refuges in Europe created by and for Latin American women and children fleeing gender-based violence. They also offer holistic and intersectional services to help BME women recover from abuse and live empowered lives.

In the current situation, there are limitations to the smooth running of LAWA’s usual services, which include their emergency refuge homes, a crèche, English classes, counselling, a Change Maker empowerment program, a housing policy project (WAHA), and children and young people’s services and support lines. In response, LAWA launched their Emergency Fund to continue supporting 14 refugee families in their refuges, and other vulnerable women. LAWA communicated via their website:

“To #stayhome is not safe for women facing domestic violence. As women are now trapped with perpetrators, they are at higher risk of violence. To #stayhome means no income for women who face financial abuse, or find themselves with no safety net around them. The situation is critical. In the last week, most of our refuge residents were let go from their jobs. They now have no income and are unable to meet even their most basic needs, like buying food, sanitary products, soap, nappies and milk.”

The Emergency Fund has two aims: 1) to provide residents with what they need to live dignified lives, and 2), most crucially, to increase the hours of their online emergency advice line, giving women a lifeline when it is not safe for them to pick up the phone.

Within two days of launching the campaign, LAWA not only reached their goal, but surpassed it! But this doesn’t mean that more donations won’t still be vital. Hear from them directly below and please donate any amount that you can to support them, if you are fortunate enough to be in a position to do so. 


Somos Chibchas keep people moving through online challenges:

Unable to meet up in person to exercise, learn about specific Latin American dances and cultures and spend time together, Somos Chibchas dance group have taken to creating instructional online dance videos and requesting dancers to learn it at home and send in their videos.

Challenge compilations posted to Somos Chibchas’ social media show dancers practicing their moves at home–in front of the TV, by the fireplace, in their bedrooms and outside in the garden with their children. Somos Chibchas are making sure the group get their daily dose of exercise and fun, whilst staying safe and ensuring the same for our most vulnerable.


Estos fueron nuestros participantes del #CHALLENGE de esta semana, EL ABOZAO CHALLENGE y si quieres participar, pronto presentaremos un nuevo reto (CHALLENGE), "No somos uno solo, somos un equipo"Wendy SaritaFlag Flaguk#yobailofolclorencasa#stayathome

Gepostet von Somos Chibchas London am Montag, 27. April 2020

LAWRS Sin Fronteras goes digital:

Sin Fronteras is a creative empowerment organisation for young Latin American women and girls aged 14 to 21, which functions as part of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS), facilitating development through entertainment, active learning (museum visits, theatre trips, debates and more), and arts.

Their work is all face-to-face and mostly consists of hands-on group workshops, where young women practice creative skills and gain professional tools. The main draw of the organisation is meeting people and feeling comfortable expressing yourself in a safe pocket between cultures and languages. 

And sisterhood knows no boundaries. Sin Fronteras has gone digital. On Zoom, the organisation are running collaborative online classes on how to write articles, create a blog and tell your own stories through art, illustration and poetry. They’ve held online psychology classes to talk through issues like anxiety, self-harm and low self-esteem.

They are also offering individual and group sessions to work on personal development in finding work, writing a good CV, and applying to university, higher education institutions and English courses. The best part? All of the sessions are completely free of charge.

Follow them on social media to keep up with news and support their work by purchasing one of their colourful, witty, personal and poetic zines here.


LAWRS continue to offer services remotely. Please share this information with anyone who may need it.


Have you got something to add? Get in contact at bristolatino@hotmail.com if you’d like to feature news of how your business / organisation / initiative is adapting to isolation.